The UK Public Lending Right office is part of the British Library. Two senior postholders are responsible for the operational and policy aspects of the PLR scheme. The Head of PLR Operations has overall responsibility for the day-to-day management of PLR and the Head of PLR Policy and Engagement covers policy development, liaises with stakeholder bodies and acts as an advocate for PLR.
The British Library receives funding for PLR from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. For the current spending review period PLR funding amounts to £6.6 million per year. Details of payments to authors can be found here.
The British Library is advised by a PLR Advisory Committee details of which can be found within the PLR committees section of this site.
In administering the PLR Scheme, the British Library has set itself a number of core objectives. Further information can be found below.
Who’s who at the PLR office
Kate Ebdon - Head of PLR Operations
Julia Eccleshare - Head of PLR Policy and Engagement
Janis Black - PLR Operations and Marketing Manager
Emma Clayford-Rowe - PLR Operations Team Member
Joy Hatton - PLR Operations Team Member
Joanne Hawkins - PLR Operations Team Member
Ronni Reagan - PLR Operations Team Member
Background to the PLR Act and Scheme
PLR was established by the Public Lending Right Act 1979 which gave British authors a legal right to receive payment for the free lending of their books by public libraries. Under the Act funding is provided by Central Government and payments are made to eligible authors in accordance with how often their books are lent out from a selected sample of UK public libraries. To qualify for payment authors must apply to the PLR office which maintains a register of eligible authors and books. The Act established PLR as an intellectual property right, entirely separate from copyright.
The principles of PLR were set out in the 1979 primary legislation. The 1982 Scheme sets out more detailed rules for the operation of PLR in the UK such as which authors and books are eligible, how many libraries should be included in the sample providing loans data to the PLR office, and how the amount payable each year to authors should be calculated.
The Public Lending Right Act 1979 and Public Lending Right Scheme 1982 were amended by the Public Bodies (Abolition of the Registrar of Public Lending Right) Order 2013. Responsibility for the administration of the PLR scheme transferred to the British Library in October 2013.
Campaign for PLR
For thirty years before the passing of the 1979 Act British authors campaigned for recognition of their right to receive payment for the free public use of their books through the public library system. By the early 1970s the PLR campaign was given added momentum with the emergence of the Writers Action Group (WAG). Conscious of the fears of many people, particularly librarians, that the government might make PLR a charge on library users, and thus threaten the principle of free public access to libraries, the WAG campaign focused on the need for a centrally-funded scheme. Eventually, and in spite of opposition from a determined minority of MPs, PLR became law in 1979. There followed the appointment of a Registrar, introduction of the Scheme in 1982, and the establishment of the new PLR office in Stockton-on-Tees in the north of England. £2 million was allocated initially by the government for PLR funding.
PLR has a set of core objectives aimed at meeting its statutory functions as set out in the PLR Act (1979) and Scheme (1982). Since October 2013 PLR has been the responsibility of the British Library Board. See our Strategic Framework, which describes PLR's strategic priorities under the Library.